Governor Wolf's proposed budget includes increases for basic education and special education funding

The Governor presented his budget to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The focus of the 2019-2020 budget is workforce development, the cornerstone of which is education and training. 

The hot topics for education in the Governor’s annual budget message included: The proposed minimum teacher salary of $45,000; block grant funding moved into the Basic Education Fund (BEF); the decrease in the safe schools competitive grant funding; and, flat funding of transportation.

Among the details are the following:

1. Basic Education Fund (BEF)

a. $200M increase in the BEF

  • $166M in new dollars would be driven through the Basic Education formula.
  • Ready to Learn block grant funds rolled into the BEF (making it no longer a separate line-item).

b. Teacher Salaries: A minimum base teacher salary statewide of $45,000. This would affect about 5,100 teachers across the commonwealth. The budget provides approximately $13M in BEF funding for this purpose. 

2. Special Education: $50M increase for special education.

3. Other Education Line-Items 

  1.  Ready to Learn: $8M is still in this line-item targeted to charter schools. All other money is rolled into the BEF.
  2. Career & Technical Education (CTE) Funding: The formula is level-funded. CTE funds are targeted to school-to-work initiatives as part of the Governor's broader workforce initiative.
  3. Early Childhood: $50M increase
  4. Early Intervention: $50M increase
  5. Safety and Security: $45M in safety and security funding for schools. This is a $15 million decrease from the current year's budget of $60M.
  6. Transportation: This line-item is level-funded.

4. Proposed Policy Components of the Governor's Budget 

  1. Student Attendance: The Governor proposes lowering the compulsive attendance age from eight to six years old. In addition, the Governor's proposal calls for a study to look at the impact of lowering the age further to five years old and the potential impact of providing full-day kindergarten statewide.
  2. PlanCon: There is no new PlanCon money for new construction projects. The amount in the 2019-20 school construction line-item is necessary to fund some reimbursements. Those reimbursements will be paid out of revenue from sales-and-use taxes. There likely will not be new money for the PlanCon system in the near future.
  3. Safe2SaySomething (S2SS): The Governor's budget proposes to level-fund the Attorney General's (AG) Office work on Safe2SaySomething (S2SS).
  4. Minimum Wage Proposal: The Governor proposes to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2025 and then proposes an annual increase based on the consumer price index (CPI). Budget revenue projections reflect the impact this would have in taxation.

For detailed information regarding the Governor’s proposed budget, please visit: https://www.budget.pa.gov/PublicationsAndReports/CommonwealthBudget/Pages/default.aspx.

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